New York City school bus strike The school bus strike in New York City has continued through its second week despite the union’s offer to resume work. The strike originated because the city refuses to include Employee Protection Provisions in new contr …

Walton Pantland

New York City school bus strike

The school bus strike in New York City has continued through its second week despite the union’s offer to resume work. The strike originated because the city refuses to include Employee Protection Provisions in new contracts with the private bus companies that run the routes. The city claims the provisions violate competitive bidding laws, but the provisions have been included for decades.

The union offered to resume work for up to three months if the city agreed to postpone its date for reopening bidding on the contracts and joined the union at the bargaining table with the bus companies. The city refused because they insist the employee protection provisions are exclusively between the union and the bus companies. This refusal has kept the burden on the families of children to find a way to school each day.

The city’s goal of reducing costs through competitive bidding is understandable, but insisting that they play no part in the negotiations is not. The city has the absolute power to choose which bids to select, and they alone hold the checkbook. There is no doubt that the issue is within the city’s reach, yet they take no responsibility for the effect the strike has on over 150,000 children in NYC. The city claims that postponing open bidding would ensure that the same contracts are in effect for the next year, but this is a lazy excuse. Surely the so-called “greatest city in the world” could negotiate an alternative; there has to be a middle ground that offers job security to the bus drivers and saves the city money on the contracts.

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Brooklyn cable technicians fired for trying to join union

In the New York City borough of Brooklyn, 23 cable technicians were fired this week after they tried to talk to a vice president about why their labor negotiations had not progressed. The techs formed a union a year ago but had yet to reach a collective bargaining agreement. Seventy members gathered in a cafeteria in hopes of speaking to management and were told that management was too busy. Many went back to work and those who decided to wait were fired for striking, despite the fact they never refused to resume work.

Workers, mayoral candidates, and clergy joined to protest the firings on Wednesday. So far no changes have been made, and it appears that the cable giant wants to hire replacements on a permanent basis. The union will seek legal ramifications for Cablevision’s bad faith bargaining.

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Kansas is considering a bill that would limit collective bargaining rights for teachers, but the bill is not as bad as it sounds. The state is concerned with the quality of its public education and wants to eliminate teacher evaluations from contract negotiations. The hope is that allowing school districts to come up with their own evaluation measures will ensure that the most skilled teachers are retained.

Opponents of the bill fear that it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – that the bill’s hidden objective is to weaken unions and bring an end to collective bargaining. There is always a chance that the facial purpose of a law will cover up its true intent, so we can only hope that this bill, if passed, does not start Kansas on a slippery slope.

 

 


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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